Stagecoach keeps Ipswich Buses in sight
ONE of Britain's largest transport operators could take over the Ipswich bus company.Transport giant Stagecoach is looking to buy more bus operators - and is keeping the situation in Ipswich under review.
ONE of Britain's largest transport operators could take over the Ipswich bus company.
Transport giant Stagecoach is looking to buy more bus operators - and is keeping the situation in Ipswich under review.
However it accepts that if the "for sale" sign was hoisted over council run Ipswich Buses, it could face competition from other operators.
Before Christmas Stagecoach sent out a statement to the stock exchange, shareholders and employees saying it was interested in expanding its business throughout Britain.
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Stagecoach is one of the largest transport operators in the country, running bus and train services.
Among the companies it owns is Cambus, based in Cambridge, and South West Trains - one of the largest rail companies in the country. It is also owns a large chunk of Virgin Trains.
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Spokesman Steven Stewart confirmed that Stagecoach was hoping to expand its operations.
He said: "What we said in our report was that as a company we are not looking at any major changes to our business worldwide - but that we are still looking for opportunities to increase our operations in Britain.
"To that extent we are one of 10 bidders hoping to take over the municipal bus company in Bournemouth - and certainly we are monitoring the situation at similar companies around the country.
"There has been no firm targeting of Ipswich, but if the company was put up for sale we would be interested - but I'm sure many other companies would as well."
One company that would like to take over Ipswich Buses is First Group, which operates the former Eastern Counties services in the county.
However that company would almost certainly be prevented from taking over the company by the Monopolies Commission.
The Evening Star understood that First were warned off trying to take advantage of Ipswich Buses' pension crisis three years ago.
First was warned then that even if Ipswich Buses had to be sold, it would not be allowed to bid because it would create a monopoly in Suffolk.
Ipswich council leader Dale Jackson said the bus company had not been put up for sale by the the authority - but it was hoping to increase the efficiency of the business under the new administration.
He said: "We are looking at improving the efficiency of everything the council does, from the bus company to the Regent Theatre.
"At this stage we have no plans to sell off the bus company."
It is unlikely that the Conservative's administration partners, the Liberal Democrats, would back the sale of the bus company.
The council's portfolio holder for environment and transport is Liberal Democrat Inga Lockington - who is also a director of Ipswich Buses.
She said that selling off the company was not under consideration.